I was born in the month of July in the year of Big Brother (1984) and dubbed “Julia Grammer” on that day because reasons. I mean I could probably go into said reasons, but I think it’s rather boring overall to most other people. In any case, thus was the beginning of a journey with ups, downs, winding paths, dark roads, and lots of schooling – but mostly art! I was surrounded by all kinds of art growing up to be sure, but pop culture and nature were probably the strongest influences in my life. “But Julia!” you say, “Nature isn’t art!” Well first off, I think you’re wrong, but secondly, it still is great inspiration FOR art regardless of what you call it. 😉
But yes, my mother is a massive hippy so I ended up out in the woods a lot whether to hike or camp or just chill – she was a camp host for awhile so we even LIVED there at one point. At the time I hated it because all I could ever think about was getting back home to watch cartoons or play Nintendo, but age and Netflix have made me appreciate the outdoors and not feel so manic to get back to the glowing screen of much entertainment and eyestrain. And I mean, have you ever just SAT out in the woods when the wind is roaring through the trees? TV doesn’t engage ALL your senses like that!
In any case, there are plenty more facets that have gone into the making of the Julia. Here’s just a few:
Julia the Artist
Ahem, but to get back on track: nature, and animals, and cartoons, oh my! Is it any wonder I became a massive lover of cartoon animals? As for the artist part, my mother dabbled in plenty of that under the auspices of “arts and crafts” which she did lots of all throughout my childhood. It also helped that I went to a grade school that had a seriously artistic bent to it – they’d incorporate art into everything we did. That coupled with afternoons of watching the aforementioned cartoons and playing video games made me want to draw as a kid – LOTS! I’d draw my favorite characters. And write stories to go with it. And BE in the stories. And wonder why life wasn’t nearly as cool as all that. Why ISN’T life that cool?
…Well, if life can’t be that cool I can still dream it and draw it right? And sometimes pretend to be a fine artist because I have those moods too, ever since going through college and learning about all the crazy stuff that goes on in contemporary art. For some reason it almost always takes going to college to appreciate anything but what the art establishment affectionately calls “lowbrow” art, I swear. But that’s where I am in life right now artistically, dreaming the dreams and experimenting as far as the eye can see. Still tend to gravitate towards the lowbrow art though – sorry art establishment, that’s just how I roll.
Julia the Geek
…Did I mention I watched a lot of Saturday Morning/After School cartoons? I think I did. In any case yeah, that’s what I did, and there were lots of anthropomorphic animals and super heroes being paraded in front of my very impressionable self as a youth, and I never allowed anyone to beat the love of them out of me so it persists it would seem. I liked Batman The Animated Series, I liked Darkwing Duck, and sometimes whatever anime they’d bother to show on broadcast TV – which seemed to be rarer before Pokemon became a big thing but maybe that’s just me… I mean there was a lot more than that but you get the idea. I think I’m trying to make up somehow for a childhood fraught with lots of answers of “no” when I wanted toys because, yanno, being poor wasn’t conducive to a figure collecting habit unless you liked to limit yourself to the McDonald’s toys – though to be fair some of those could be pretty neat too.
Julia the Writer
So instead of always playing out scenarios with my limited selection of figures I tended to create whole story worlds in journals that I’d fill up with mostly a 50/50 ratio of pictures to words earlier on, but later when I had a better vocabulary and sense of style I was flexing my writing muscles a fair bit with fan fiction, online role playing, etc. The school I went to for the more impressionable of my years was big on getting the kids to read so I mean there WERE interludes of reading stuff like Island of the Blue Dolphins and Doctor Dolittle between all the cartoons and Nintendo games, but I ended up finding it easier in some ways to just read something online while I had another window up on our computer, or to just incorporate that love into game time by playing games that – god forbid – required a fair bit of reading. Why Amazon didn’t invent Kindles sooner is beyond me… But I digress! (Actually I know the answer: the technology wasn’t cheap enough.)
One technique I found interesting for brainstorming ideas (and still do) is the aforementioned role playing. Collaborative story telling in written form with people hundreds if not thousands of miles away, you’ve got to admit, is a pretty cool feat. It’s certainly given me lots of ideas over the years and done even more to help broaden my thinking and understanding of what things resonate best with people.
Julia the Tech Nerd
There was a point in my childhood where mom couldn’t keep doing her hippy dream job of turning compost piles, so she had to develop new skills. Up until that point I was happy making web pages by writing my own HTML and making dreams (custom maps) in an old graphical MUCK (that’s actually still operational to this day) called Furcadia, and that was basically the extent of my techiness – then mom went to a vocational school and learned the basics of computer repair and troubleshooting and through that I got a window into a whole other level! Like now I was learning how to disassemble and reassemble the machines themselves, and make new ones from parts; it was pretty rad!
And then I learned that there was this thing called “programming” where I could potentially make the cool video games I was playing and studied that for awhile, including in college on the side. It was a fun mental experiment but ultimately I think the fact that I haven’t made anything mind-blowing in the realm of games till this point is because I was waiting for the march of technology to make it easier – I’m number one an artist at heart after all, not a mathematician. I get now what all those X’s, Y’s, and Z’s in Algebra were about but I didn’t want to have to think nearly as much about the underlying math because it just wasn’t and still isn’t me. Now, however, we have things like GameMaker, Unity, and a million SDEs and code libraries that make the process far less painful for artists like me. The programs for dealing with the artistic end keep getting better too now that Flash is finally dead, har har. Er, I mean Adobe Flash, not THE Flash – the latter being dead would be pretty sad. 😛
In any case we’ll see how that making games thing goes, my head’s got plenty of ideas brewing that I might get the gumption to make one day!